What is Aortic Valve Stenosis?
The aortic valve connects the heart to the aorta, which supplies blood to the rest of the body. Aortic valve stenosis is a degenerative process that leads to narrowing of the valve and inadequate opening. Causes for aortic valve stenosis include excessive calcium deposits on the aortic valve causing it to become too stiff , congenital defect, and rheumatic fever (a strep infection that leads to scar tissue to form on the valve). When the aortic valve is severely narrowed, the amount of blood your heart can pump to the rest of your body is greatly reduced.
Aortic valve stenosis may be mild, moderate, or severe. Common signs and symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath, especially during or after activity
- Fatigue, especially during or after activity
- Angina (chest pain) or chest tightness with activity
- Dizziness or fainting
- Swelling in your feet and ankles
- Heart murmur (abnormal heart sound through a stethoscope)
- Heart palpitations (feeling your heart flutter or beat fast)
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) Procedure
TAVR is a minimally invasive approach to aortic valve replacement and is an alternative to traditional open heart surgery. The TAVR procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterization lab by highly specialized physicians. During the TAVR, the new valve is advanced up to the heart through catheters using a puncture site in the femoral artery in the leg. The new valve is positioned inside the native diseased heart valve. The new valve is expanded into place and immediately starts working. The overall risks are lower than surgical approaches, especially for older patients, by avoiding the need for open heart surgery.
What to Expect
If you are diagnosed with aortic valve stenosis, your primary physician or cardiologist will refer you to an Interventional Cardiologist and a Cardiothoracic Surgeon for a full evaluation. Additional diagnostic work-up includes lab work, an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart), a coronary angiogram (to assess the arteries that supply blood to the heart itself), and a CT scan. You will also meet with our Nurse Navigator, who will facilitate each step in the TAVR process.
On the morning of your TAVR, you will check in at the hospital. After thorough preparation, the TAVR procedure will be performed in the Cardiac Catheterization laboratory. Your vital signs and valve function will be monitored closely during the procedure and until discharge. The average hospital length of stay is 1-3 days.
After leaving the hospital, you will have follow up appointments periodic assessments of the new valve with echocardiograms.
A Multidisciplinary Team Approach
A multidisciplinary team approach is critical for achieving optimal patient outcomes. Patients undergoing transcatheter aortic valve replacement are under the care of a highly experienced multidisciplinary heart team consisting of Interventional Cardiologists, Cardiothoracic Surgeons, Cardiac Anesthesiologists, Nurses, and Imaging Specialists.
Linda Sprague, MSN, RN
Structural Heart Nurse Navigator
Physicians and Specialists
Aaron Yung, MD, FACC
Ankur Bakshi, MD
Anitha Rajamanickam, MD
Darrell Wu, MD
Yuan Lin, MD